Wry & Dry

Keep May and Carry On. Westpac whacked. Huawei who?

Huawei who?

Readers could not have missed that the flaming Sino-American trade dispute has had some unleaded petrol poured on it.

The CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei (Readers will know that it is pronounced 'wha-way') was arrested in Vancouver last week over alleged breaches of US sanctions with Iran.  The situation wasn't helped by the arrestee [1] being the daughter of Huawei's founder.

The lads in Beijing were aggrieved, as reported by W&D last week.  Aggrievement is a specialty of the Chinese government, but now the lads have escalated the hurt feelings to a higher level.

Chinese authorities, in an exercise of tit-for-tat politics not seen since the Cold War of the 1950s, have arrested two Canadian businessmen in China on what are clearly trumped up charges.  

But wait, there's more.  It has now been revealed that spy chiefs from the Five Eyes nations (Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK) have undertaken a discreet campaign to block Huawei from supplying equipment for the upcoming 5G wireless networks in those countries.

It brings tears to W&D's eyes that it is members of the British Empire (well, the Yoo Ess Aye once sort-of was, before those crack idiots, Lord North and the mad George III ruined the whole damned thing) that are working together to defeat the fiendish Chinese government.   

Keep May.  And Carry On.

Readers may have read in the better media that there's a bit of fuss in the UK.  It seems that a few folk don't like Prime Minister May, and wanted her given the DCM.

Cartoon Teresa May

And so it's a great pity that there is not a wannabee UK PM named June.  But there's not, so after May will come...

Well, as Readers would expect, W&D has done the market research as to who that might be.  And when May steps down, as she undertook yesterday after winning a party-room ballot of confidence, W&D considers there are seven wannabee PM contenders:

Next UK PM

Readers will probably be familiar with just one name: Boris Johnson, the irrepressible self-publicist (but useful author).  Bubbling Boris is thought of as possibly 'a good PM' by only 22% of they-the-people.  But that's the highest of all wannabees.  BB's problem is that he is also by far the least preferred wannabee.

W&D has read the entrails of the rats and bats and considers it will be one of Davis, Javid and Rudd who succeeds May.  But Davis was born before Churchill's last premiership.  Rudd is tainted after an immigration scandal.  Which leaves Javid.

Javid is a smart fellow (a former managing director of Deutsche Bank); is young (49); is centrist; and has broad community appeal (his parents are from Pakistan).  The only problem is that he has been in parliament for only 8 years.  Which is probably, on reflection, a good thing. 

So W&D predicts that, if the party-room is sensible, Javid will kiss Her Majesty's hand in April.  Which would mean that May ... oh, never mind.

We-the-people ...

.. want our tax dollars to be well spent.  But at the moment there are some 96,000 Australian pensioners living overseas, each of whom gets dosh from we-the-taxpayer. 

Trouble is, some 6,000 of them are dead.  Their families don't notify the government, so they, the families, keep receiving the pension. 

Nice work, if you can get it.

Well, the government has decided to put a stop to this rort.  And will ask pensioners living overseas to 'prove' they are still alive.

A selfie, perhaps?  

Cartoon non residents proving not dead

Westpac makes history

The Bank of New South Wales is Australia's First Bank, having been founded in 1817.  Soon after, another first, Australia's first superannuation product was sold...

Cartoon Bank of New South Wales superannuation

With its takeover of the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982, BNSW changed its name, on the recommendation of an advertising agency, to the portmanteau Westpac (Western Pacific?).

Its first scandal was in 1821, when its Chief Cashier stole half of the bank's capital.  And there have been many along the way, not least the amazing Bank of Melbourne/ Regal and Occidental Insurance scandal of 1990.  But, in all honesty, that was before Westpac took over the former building society [2].

The latest scandal is that at its AGM on Wednesday Westpac's shareholders delivered a stunning rebuff to the board, in rejecting the board's Remuneration Report.  A 'no' vote of 25% of shareholders is required to deliver a 'strike'.  Westpac's shareholders cast a mammoth 64% vote against the board.  A second strike at the next AGM will allow shareholders to vote on a spill motion that would force the board to face re-election.  But the reality is that this is virtue signalling by institutional investors and nothing will be done.

Importantly, W&D couldn't give a tinker's cuss for all of this.  The key point is history is being made: The First Bank In Australia is now The First Bank In Australia To Receive A Remuneration Report Strike.  W&D will cull through Westpac's website, the 'Our History' section, to see if the strike is recorded. 

But, wait. There's more ...

... W&D knows the Chairman of Westpac, Lindsay Maxsted, to be a tough but fair person.  But he has a totally screwed up his understanding of how bonuses should work.

Cartoon bankers bonuses

In defending his board's decision to cut executive short-term bonuses by only 25%, he said that CEO Brian Hartzer and his group executive committee forfeited about $18 million.  Hold the phone! 'Forfeited'?  That then assumes that the default position is a 100% payout of the 'bonus opportunity'.

Lindsay, read W&D's lips.  That is the wrong way around.  The starting point for bonuses is $0.  And then one builds up from there.  Bonuses have to be earned.  Not working down from 100% and 'forfeiting' dollars if not earned. 

Sigh.

W&D Readers heard it here first ...

... that the Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, on Monday became the second human-made object to leave our Solar System.  It's now about 18 billion kilometres from Earth, over twice the distance beyond Pluto, the former outermost planet.

Voyager 2 is travelling towards Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.  It will need to keep travelling at its 54,000 kph for another 296,000 years before it gets close.

Cartoon inter stellar space

Critically, Readers will be delighted to hear of the upcoming Voyager 3.  This larger probe will carry Tarzan Trump into interstellar space.  Due for launch in early 2020, before the next US presidential race, the space-craft would take TT to the silent, immeasurable, cold world where Twitter doesn't work.

Just kiddin'. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Costello, where are you?

Australia's fertility rate (number of children a woman has) has dropped to below the level it was in 2004, when Treasurer Peter Costello called on parents to have"one for mum, one for dad and one for the country".  The fertility rate has dropped to 1.74, well below the 2.1 required to replace the population.  In Australia immigration tops up the shortfall to keep the population growing.

Cartoon fertility sperm

W&D comments: Costello's plan had a hidden motive.  The obvious one was that population increases are a critical factor in GDP growth.  The hidden one was that by Australians increasing the fertility rate, the country would rely less on immigration, and the possible attendant disgruntlement of people north of the Brisbane Line [3].  

2.  Australia leads in gas

Australia took the world's largest LNG exporter crown from Qatar for the first time in November. It follows the start up of a number of export projects over the past three years, most recently the Ichthys project offshore its northern coast. 

W&D comments: No-one analysed the amount of gas produced in Canberra.  

3.  Meanwhile, back at the Forum

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said that the EU should censure France over its decision to add more than €10 billion per annum to its budget deficit, arising from M Macron's appeasement of demonstrators (see more, below). He said that he expects the EU to treat France and Italy the same. The European Commission has rejected Italy's draft budget which targets the deficit to rise to 2.4% of GDP in 2019, while France's 2019 deficit is now likely to rise above 3%.   

W&D comments:  And the EU is worried about Brexit.  

4.  Down at the car wash

Tarzan Trump's chief-of-staff, John Kelly, has quit.  He couldn't take the mayhem anymore, it seems.  And Tarzan Trump then announced that he'd like Nick Ayers, chief-of-staff to Vice President Pence, as the replacement.  But no-one told Mr Ayres, who didn't want the top job and doesn't want the top job.

W&D comments:  Seek.com?

5.  They the people ...

... of the UK will be disappointed that it has been overtaken by Russia as the world’s second largest arms producer after the US.  Russia sold US$37.7 billion in 2018, compared to the UK's $35.7 billion.  

W&D comments:  Russia's success came from it showcasing its military hardware in Syria.  Tsar Putin has hailed Russia’s military campaign in Syria as a “priceless” opportunity to test new weaponry.  The Syrian people possibly don't see it that way.  Just sayin'. 

6.  Is Paris burning?

Not any more.  The violence and fire bombing had stopped with the announcement of the deferral of M. Macron's fuel tax increases.  But then the violence returned.  And so M. Macron did what any French President would do.  He caved in.        

W&D comments:  Macron not only cancelled the fuel tax increase, he increased the minimum wage and slashed overtime and pension taxes.  Cost to they-the-taxpayers-of-France: €10 billion per annum.   

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... 'Unicef on Campus', a university society at SOAS University of London [4].  The society tried to book five comedians to appear at an unpaid charity gig in January.  The invitation came with a "behavioral agreement form".

The form decreed: “By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism.”

Some Readers know that W&D has ataxophobia.  And he would be most offended if people made jokes about that.   

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver ...

... was talking about cricket.  "Ha, ha, we beat your cricket team," he beamed as W&D got into his car.  "The first test result, as you would say: "never in doubt"."

"Now, now, Deepak," W&D replied.  "It's only the first test match of the series.  And, in any event, it must give you no satisfaction to defeat such a weak team, as Australia's is now."

"It certainly does give me satisfaction.  And a billion other Indians as well."

"Do I detect some hubris?" countered W&D.

"Well, I don't know who this Who Bris is.  All I know is that I am very satisfied."

"Okay, let's see what happens in Perth.  Speaking of satisfaction, how are things with Anjali?"

"To be honest, there's not much satisfaction there.  Don't forget that she is about 7 month's pregnant.  I'm not sure that she'd be a happy recipient of my, err, advances."  

"A fateful conclusion," said W&D cheekily as he unbuckled his seat belt.  "Woman always want to be made to feel special.  Especially at this stage of pregnancy.  A surprise bunch of flowers and perhaps a small love gift will work wonders.  And, well, you never know your luck in a  big city." 

Deepak's face lit up.  "You think this might work?"

"There's no downside.  You know your mother-in-law loves old Bollywood movies, so send her off to see a very long one.  And then you and Anjali will have time together."

"Ah, thank you so much, Mr W&D.  You are so wise."  

"Maybe not, Deepak," observed W&D as he strode off.  "But you need to, err, make arrangements before her cousins arrive.  And before Anjali finds out about Bitcoin, the price of which has fallen 8% this week.  It's now down to $3,270."

Deepak sat quietly in his car to consider his life's troubles: his love life, his mother-in-law, his wife's cousins.  And when Anjali will find out about his investment in Bitcoin.  

And, to soothe your troubled mind...  

Miscellany 

Last words ...

"I will shut down the government."

 -  Tarzan Trump, modestly, to House Democrat leaders at a White House meeting to discuss funding for his Great Wall of Mexico.  He was attempting to blackmail the Democrats into supporting funding for the Wall.

TT wants $5 billion for the Wall.  The Democrats are offering $1.3 billion, which would build a pretty picket fence, but not much more.  Funding for some Federal agencies runs out on 21st December.

First Samuel client events calendar

All quiet until 2019


Some lightly salted absurdities from all over ...

At the extreme left-hand end of the Bell Curve

The Christmas spirit at work: see video here 

(Twitter)

Guess what happened next?

A group of hospital workers from St Louis pool up their money to jointly buy lottery tickets every month.  They finally win a decent amount.  What happens next?

a.  The hospital says that as the ticket was bought during work time, it should have a share of the winnings;

b.  The nurse whose job it was to buy the ticket lost it;

c.  The nurses split the winnings between two of their colleagues who needed it more; or

d.  Two of the nurses lawyered up and sued for more than their share of the winnings.       

Close.  But no cigar.  c. is correct.  They decided to give the $10,000 to one of the nurses in the syndicate, whose 17-year-old son died by suicide the night of the drawing, and to another nurse whose husband is battling cancer.

(edition.cnn.com)

Nice touch.  

How do you conceal an AK-47?

An AK-47 (also known as a Kalashnikov) is about 90 cm long.  And why would anyone keep an AK-47?  Ooops, sorry.  This is the Yoo Ess Aye.   

Have a Wry & Dry weekend. 

Cheers!

Anthony

[1]  Arrestee: the person arrested.  Another word created by W&D, but nonetheless an abomination of the English language.

[2] Westpac took over the then Bank of Melbourne in 1997, and then fully absorbed it into Westpac.  The current Bank of Melbourne is a separate entity and is simply the corporatisation and re-branding of the Victorian branches and business of St George Bank (which Westpac took over in 2008).

[3]  The Brisbane Line was a defence proposal supposedly formulated during the Second World War, to concede the northern part of Australia to the Japanese, before active defence would begin north of a line that extended west from just north of Brisbane.  The proposal was actually rejected by the Curtain government in February 1942, but mischievously kept alive by Labor Minister Eddie Ward on the basis that it was a plan of the former UAP government, led by Robert Menzies.  The controversy contributed to the Labor government's election win in 1943.  A Royal Commission later found that Ward had no basis for his claim.  But by then it was too late.  Sort of like Mediscare.

 [4]  SOAS University of London is "the leading Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East".  It is ranked 48th best university in the UK, according to World University Rankings.